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Learn the 5 Best Higher Education KPIs to Measure

Posted on 30th May 2017 in KPIs

Written by Freya Hughes

While your students might be out partying, it’s up to you to be building the success of your higher education institution. As with any industry focused on improving lives, there are countless control factors which could go wrong at any moment. Measuring KPIs will make you closer to your business, and also help you to relax about what could go wrong. Rely on these metrics to alert you when something isn’t quite right.

If you’re the Head Teacher or Dean of a higher education institution, you’ll know that when you’re dealing with young people’s futures, you might not have the time to sit down and work out each metric you should be measuring. Your focus should be on the students, so we’ve made thinking of KPIs that much easier by listing our top five below.


Visit our KPI Library for a little extra inspiration. We’re open all hours so you can study the best KPIs when it suits you.


1. Student to teacher ratio

You must measure how many students are admitted per class, per teacher. If you have large classes with just one teacher, it’s assumed that students will be neglected and have less support. In higher education, this will impact negatively on the reputation of your institution as fees are high and students (and parents) expect to be nurtured. Staff may well end up overstretched and reach a burnout point far sooner than ever expected, which will then impact your bottom line as you’ll need to arrange cover or a replacement.

If you have a low student to teacher ratio, you’re doing well. This is something that can be your USP when attracting prospective staff and students. Calculate this KPI here.

2. Student attendance rate

By measuring how frequently students miss their classes, you’ll be alerted as to when something is amiss. A low attendance rate should raise alarm bells, giving you the opportunity to investigate into why students aren’t turning up. Are the teachers not engaging enough? Is the workload too high? There are a myriad of reasons this rate might be low, so ensure you have a constant dialogue with your staff so you might be able to prevent the problem. A low rate of attendance is very likely to equate to lower grades, too. Lower grades mean worse leaderboard results, which in turn means fewer applicants over the coming years. Measure attendance rates with ease.

3. Course completion rate

This metric measures the proportion of students that complete their course. If the majority complete, you don’t have anything to worry about (and you can reward your staff). However, if a small amount of students finish a given course, there’s huge cause for concern. Is the course too difficult? Is the workload unreasonable? Are the teachers overworked or not engaging enough? Does the institution have the correct materials for students to use? Measuring this KPI will allow you to identify the issue, but make sure you follow through with finding the root of the problem.

In a similar way, students hitting their predicted grades will signify strong teaching ability. This becomes a measure in itself of the success of the institution and often goes towards the ranking they’re given in university leaderboards. Measure course completion here.

4. International students %

In higher education, many students flock overseas to attend different universities. These students often have different requirements to students hailing from the country your institution is in, such as additional storage, holiday accommodation and additional support from staff if there’s a language barrier.

Not only this, higher education institutions often increase fees from international students, meaning a chance of increased revenue. Measure this metric to keep track of how many students from abroad you have per year and aim to increase this for next time. Not only will it earn you cash, it’ll have a positive effect on diversity within the student population. Learn how to work this KPI out here.

5. Drop out rate

Obviously, you’re going to want to keep this low. Reasons for this metric to be high include disengagement, staffing issues or uninspiring course content. To keep this figure low, try to meet with staff regularly and ask if there are any students that might be thinking of dropping out. Additional support for those students might be able to win them back.

If you are having a high number of drop outs per year, it can negatively impact your income for the year, as fees cannot be charged and it may not be possible to fill their space immediately. Learn more about drop out rates.